Nevermore:
The Edgar Allan Poe Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

The Raven

Poe raven
 

Poe’s most famous poem was an instant success when it was published in January 1845. Reprinted more than ten times within a month of its first appearance, the poem thrilled critics and the public alike. Its fame inspired a rash of comic parodies, including “The Black Cat,” “The Turkey,” “The Owl,” and “The Mammoth Squash.” The dramatic poem, with its tormented narrator, supernatural theme and haunting “nevermore” refrain, has kept its grip on the public imagination ever since.

The poem also boosted Poe’s fame, bringing the perpetually impoverished poet some needed income. Its notoriety gave publishers Wiley and Putnam the confidence to print a new collection of Poe’s Tales in June (earning the author a royalty of 8 a copy) and a new collection of his poems, The Raven and Other Poems, late in November.


Edgar Allan Poe. “The Raven.” In The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art and Science. New York, Volume II, February 1845.
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Set in type from Poe’s manuscript, “The Raven” was first printed in the American Review in January 1845 (although the issue is dated February 1845). The first appearance of the famous poem was published under the pseudonym “Quarles,” in keeping with the American Review’s practice of publishing poetry unsigned or under a pen name.

The poem struck an immediate chord with the public and was reprinted in magazines and newspapers throughout the country.

Edgar Allan Poe. “The Raven.” In The New York Mirror. Volume 1, Number XVIII. February 8, 1845.
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This early newspaper printing of “The Raven,” reprinted from the January 29 edition of the Evening Mirror, includes the famous introduction presumed to have been written by Poe’s friend N. P. Willis: “We are permitted to copy (in advance of publication) from the 2nd No. of the American Review, the following remarkable poem by EDGAR POE. In our opinion, it is the most effective single example of ‘fugitive poetry’ ever published in this country; and unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conception, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent, sustaining of imaginative life and ‘pokerishness.’ It is one of these ‘danties bred in a book’ which we feed on. It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it.”

“The Owl.” In The New York Mirror. New York: February 22, 1845.
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The popularity of “The Raven” spawned several parodies, like this anonymous poem entitled “The Owl” by “Sarles.” As Poe’s fame began to spread, critics and members of the public began associating the poet with the poem.

Edgar Allan Poe. “The Raven.” In A Plain System of Elocution by G. Vandenhoff. New York: C. Shepard, 1845. Second edition.
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Although unauthorized, “The Raven” appeared in the second edition of Vandenhoff’s A Plain System of Elocution, less than three months after the poem was first published. It did not appear in subsequent editions, possibly because of legal action. The Morning News of April 12, 1845, commented on the appearance of “The Raven” in Vanderhoff’s textbook: “We are pleased to see Mr. Poe’s ‘Raven’ thus early domesticated as a classic production in a work of this kind.”

Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven and Other Poems. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845. First edition.
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The success of Poe’s Tales of 1845 and the fame of “The Raven” prompted Wiley and Putnam to publish a collection of Poe’s poetry, the author’s first in fourteen years, for which he selected and revised thirty of what he described as “the best of my poems.”

Edgar Allan Poe. “The Philosophy of Composition.” In Graham’s Magazine. Philadelphia, April 1846.
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This issue of Graham’s Magazine contains the first printing of Poe’s account of composing “The Raven,” describing his highly rational and willful model of poetic creation.

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